RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif., and FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. — Finance Express and RouteOne executives first began discussing an alliance a year and a half ago; however, it wasn't until the last month or so that the two companies entered into serious discussions, homing in on the benefits such a partnership could bring to independent dealers and lender partners. Through the recent deal, RouteOne's lender partners have the ability to easily work with independents, according to executives.

In addition to discussing the recent RouteOne/Finance Express partnership with SubPrime Auto Finance News, Finance Express' top executive also offers a look into his company's services and shares details of other recent announcements.

Earlier this week, RouteOne signed an agreement with Finance Express' Dealer Management System that will allow its lenders to use existing connections to conduct business with Finance Express's independent dealers. The integration will provide RouteOne's lenders with a comprehensive risk mitigation program that provides a safe and secure environment for lenders offering their services to independents, according to both companies.

"With the cost and time to build integrations and the strain on each company's IT departments, it just made good business sense to use the existing interactions for more volume rather than each relationship building their own," Dave Huber, president of Finance Express, explained to SubPrime Auto Finance News this week.

"It has been the goal of Finance Express from the beginning to create a level playing field between used-car dealers and franchised dealers," he continued. "Today, with the Dealer Management System that Finance Express created — providing accounting; F&I management; inventory management; buy-here, pay-here and collections tools; Web site creation and hosting; inventory uploading; window stickers; integrated direct-mail programs; integrated lead generation program; Kelley Blue Book, NADA and Black Book, in addition to CRM; automated credit reporting to all three bureaus; and the ability to laser generate all needed documents for the state, and now the integration with RouteOne and their 120-plus lenders — I believe we have the first-ever level playing field."

Mike Jurecki, RouteOne's chief executive officer, noted, "Many of our lender partners have strong relationships with the independent dealer community. The independent dealer has unique needs that Finance Express has a solution for, allowing RouteOne to continue to focus on its core customers in the franchised dealer space.

"This integration allows us to deliver more value, more quickly, to our finance source partners that conduct business in both the prime and non-prime arena," he continued.

While the partnership was designed so RouteOne's non-captives can become a part of Finance Express, Huber said any captives interested in joining his company's independent finance platform are welcome. RouteOne was initially created by the captive financial arms of several automakers, and these companies continue offering services through the company's platform.

"It has always been the goal of Finance Express to create a powerful and easy-to-use solution with access to major lenders," Huber said.

"The risk mitigation program created by Finance Express, AFC and Escrow.com not only qualifies the dealer and provides regular monitoring of the dealer's financial stability, but also protects the lenders' funds until the lien is registered," he added. "For most independent dealers, it is the only Dealer Management System they will ever need. We are very excited about this relationship because it brings so much value to all of the parties involved."

As for the lenders, Huber said his company, AFC and Escrow.com have put together a comprehensive risk mitigation program to provide a secure environment for lenders who do business with independent dealers.

"With the help of AFC, we are able to qualify the dealer and have an ongoing monitoring of the dealer's financial stability," he explained. "With Escrow.com, we protect the lender's funds until their lien is registered, and we provide them with a Title Guard insurance policy from First American, up to $50,000 on each transaction in the event there was a reason the lien was not secured."

"The interactions process between RouteOne and Finance Express will take between six to eight weeks, and both companies will work to welcome the lenders of the other," Huber told SubPrime Auto Finance News.

For more information, dealers and finance sources may contact Finance Express at (949) 635-5892, or the RouteOne Help Desk at (866) ROUTE-01.

Finance Express Acquires DealTrace, Adds Mongoose Capital to Platform

Finance Express also recently announced its acquisition of Compusolutions. This company is otherwise known as DealTrace, a software technology company that specializes in BHPH accounting systems.

Based in Richardson, Texas, DealTrace currently provides Web-based BHPH systems in 17 states. With the company's integration into Finance Express, the technology will now be available to all independent dealers throughout the country, according to Huber.

"DealTrace is the first Web-based technology to offer an integrated BHPH solution for independent dealers," said Jeff McCurry, president of DealTrace. "We believe merging our technology with Finance Express will result in the most effective and compelling collection of tools and services ever offered to the used-car dealer in one single, simple solution.

"For most auto dealers, it will be the only system they will ever need, and we're excited to be a continuing part of it," he added.

Since DealTrace is completely Web-based, executives highlighted the fact that there are no huge upfront fees for applications, installation or additional hardware purchases. According to the company's site, DealTrace helps dealers monitor all state and federal regulations.

"When form changes are made, they are available to use as soon as they are released," executives said. "You get them on time. This means you will sleep well knowing you'll never again miss a backup, update, upgrade or new version of the software. It's all automatically handled by us for you!"

Additionally, the company's chat feature allows dealers to find help instantly.

"Our support technicians can remotely view, troubleshoot and provide quick and accurate answers to any issue," DealTrace executives explained on their site. "If needed, a technician can co-browse with you and escort you through any part of DealTrace. In addition, we offer toll-free phone support, e-mail support and interactive tutorials."

DealTrace also pointed out that its services are secure, with no unauthorized access permitted by the system.

The company's system also integrates with companies such as Black Book, AutoTrader.com, Cars.com, Velocity Warranty, Bankers Systems and more.

"In our continued effort to integrate with well-known, reputable forms vendors, DealTrace now offers LAW retail installment contracts for all 50 states," executives noted.

Discussing the other benefits of DealTrace, the company said, "The primary difference between us and our competitors is that we allow the dealer to manage their dealership and not their software. Unlike other software vendors, there are never any updates to install and the dealer will never have to buy hard copy forms.

"In addition, all contracts and associated paperwork print to plain paper," DealTrace said. "With some of the most powerful dealer management tools on the market, a dealer can manage any of their lots from anywhere, anytime."

Commenting on the recent acquisition, Huber said, "We think DealTrace is the premier BHPH system in the country. By adding their capabilities to the Finance Express system, we believe we have fulfilled our goal of becoming the first and only single-entry system which incorporates a complete DMS, lenders, BHPH, accounting, and many other unique features that improve the performance and profitability of the dealer.

"We don't think there is another program with the capability, power, simplicity and versatility of Finance Express available to any auto dealer, anywhere," he continued.

For more information on DealTrace, visit www.dealtrace.com.

In other news, Finance Express said it has added Mongoose Capital, a BHPH secured San Francisco-based lender, to its platform.

"We don't mandate that dealers payoff the balance of their loans on a fixed schedule," explained Nicholas Levenstein, president of Mongoose, when discussing his company's services. "This allows dealers to reinvest capital into their dealerships as needed and achieve superior returns.

"If dealers finance with us, they always have the option of selling their notes on a non-recourse basis and paying off the loan," he continued. "That said, dealers are frequently able to make more money financing with Mongoose than they would be by selling their notes on a non-recourse basis."

Huber added, "We're pleased to have Mongoose Capital participating with us on the Finance Express system. By utilizing the full range of Mongoose's services, including collections and issuance of codes for starter-interrupt devices, dealers improve the performance and reliability of their dealership. Mongoose Capital is a leader in BHPH, and we believe that they will bring a significant advantage to all of our dealers and the customers they serve."

A Look into the Offerings from Finance Express

Finance Express specializes in connecting lenders with independent dealers, as well as providing additional services.

Before being granted a credit facility, Huber said his company's floorplan partners do a thorough analysis, which may include:

— Internally generated credit score

— Credit bureau analysis

— Lexus Nexis search (judgments, liens, UCC, assets)

— Auction references

— Lot capacity

— Historical performance (existing dealers)

— Personal and business financial statement spread and analysis

— Credit committee decision

— Entity validation

— UCC and PMSI filings

Finance Express also conducts ongoing monitoring of its dealers, including:

— Monitoring of late payments

— Monitoring of non-sufficient funds

— Monitoring of missing titles

— Credit facility overline analysis

— Physical lot/vehicle inspections

— Financial statement analysis

— Annual account review

— Quarterly review of bank balances

Once dealers have undergone the initial review process and are accepted by Finance Express, the company allows consumer credit applications to be sent to a maximum of five lenders. Huber pointed out that this guarantees the lender better look-to-book ratios.

"It is the business plan of Finance Express to have five lenders in every credit criteria, meaning when a dealer is signed up with Finance Express that dealer should be able to choose five lenders for prime customers, five lenders for near-prime customers, five lenders for non-prime customers and five lenders for BHPH customers. This way, every dealer will have a lender for every customer who walks on his lot, whether the FICO score is zero or 800.

"We have lenders like Western Funding Inc., Vehicle Acceptance Corp., Mongoose Capital, Security Auto Loans and several others we are bringing on board that specialize in the lower credit customers, as well as many other lenders like AmeriCredit, who will finance customers with less than perfect credit," Huber explained to SubPrime Auto Finance News.

All consumer applications are filtered for lender-specific credit criteria, such as vehicle requirements, including year, make, model and mileage, according to the company.

"We ensure the deal structure is completed correctly," Huber said. "The Finance Express system ensures that all contracts contain the correct advance term, down payment, buy rate, contract rate and acquisition fee, in accordance with the approval received from the lender."

Huber also highlighted the fact that his company's system provides all required lender, state and dealer documents in a laser generated format, which are necessary to complete transactions.

"All documents are provided by Banker's Systems and ADP to ensure compliance with the specific state and federal regulations," Huber explained.

Finance Express also pointed out that one of its services is providing licensed escrow services at no cost to lenders.

"Funds are held in trust until we ensure the lender's lien will be properly registered," Huber noted. "An AutoCheck title history report from Experian is provided on every transaction. A Title Guard insurance policy up to $50,000 from First American Title is provided on every transaction, ensuring your lien."

Huber went on to say, "Our Online Audit provides the lender with the capability to view the system notes generated, as the dealer creates a credit application. This gives each lender the ability to monitor the dealer against entering improper income, job time or length of residence."

In conclusion, Huber said his company is always looking for new lender partners to add to the platform.

For example, at the Special Finance Lender Panel during Leedom and Associates' 11th Annual National Special Finance and Buy-Here, Pay-Here Conference in Las Vegas this week, Bruce Newmark from Westlake Financial and Ben Reynolds from HSBC, both said their companies have been in discussions with Finance Express.

Newmark said integrating Westlake's program with Finance Express has presented an obstacle; however, both companies continue to look for a solution. As for HSBC, Reynolds said no final decision has been made about such a partnership.

Editor's Note: When first posting this article, we inadvertently misidentified Finance Express in two places. The company’s name is now correctly identified. We apologize for the error.